How to induct a remote workforce.

For permanent, contract or temporary staff, the first few days and weeks in a new job is an exciting and important experience. Many businesses have created induction programs to help staff feel more comfortable and orientate them.

They help new hires to understand the business and expectations of their role, appreciate the organisation’s culture, complete compliance requirements, and connect with their team-mates and any direct reports.

However, in the middle of a global pandemic, with fewer people working in physical offices and many companies evaluating their working models, managing inductions on a remote workforce are more difficult and tried and tested processes are being disrupted.

In the current economic climate, that may not sound like the biggest problem that businesses are facing.  But a high percentage of employees who are not effectively inducted can taking longer to settle in and be productive, so leave within the first six months.

Not having a structured induction process can also lead to unnecessary mistakes or underperformance from new staff, and employee stress. Ultimately resulting in unhappy teams, low levels of job satisfaction and increased time and budget required by management to handle performance issues, retention, and re-filling roles.

Thankfully, managing remote workforce inductions can work just as well on the new normal, and flexible working arrangements can lead to surprising productivity. So here are five considerations to create an effective remote workforce induction.

How to Induct a Remote Workforce

  1. Get all your (technical) ducks in a row

We’ve probably all started a job where on day 1 nothing was ready… no desk, no PC or laptop, no ID card, etc. and it feels disorganised. Well, the same is true for inducting a remote workforce or staff, who need hardware, software, essential systems, accounts, logins, and communication platforms.

Typically, this induction preparation needs to be done well in advance, with the process starting from the moment they accept an offer. Make sure everything is technically ready for your remote people so they can get started straight away with an online presence in your business.

  1. Digitise what you can

So, your new team member might not physically be in your office, or might be working in a hybrid way, but that doesn’t mean they can’t experience relevant areas of a well-thought-out induction process already in place. Consider: a virtual office tour, present an induction deck on a video call, assign them a buddy, set up virtual check-ins with key players, online training, etc.

If you don’t have some of these tools, create them! As we need to adapt with the new generation skills, using tools is great to have on standby and can be handed off to other team members to help with inductions, so you can be confident that everything will be covered and new staff will have an excellent induction experience via digital communications channels.

This advance preparation should include setting expectations, providing an understanding of their role and taking them through the culture, values, purpose, and any links to useful information to ensure that new employees are representing your organisation appropriately.

  1. Virtual team spirit

Just because a team isn’t physically together, doesn’t mean you can’t create team spirit. Set up video team meetings and introduce all staff who will be interacting with your remote workers. Don’t forget to include important people who work closely with your teams, such as an EA, receptionist, accounts or IT contact.

Get each individual to give an overview of what they do and how they’ll be working together, so your new starter knows who to talk to. Some teams have a dedicated chat box open when they are online.  Or even a virtual office, where each team member is on camera during their working day so they can see each other.

  1. Allocate a buddy

The most successful inductions often come with a buddy and it should be no different for remote workers.  Having a peer within the induction process can encourage workers to ask questions that may not feel comfortable asking a manager.  No matter how comprehensive your onboarding process is, they’re still likely to have questions or simply need an informal sounding board, especially during the early days.

This can be someone who you are looking to upskill from a management perspective, or that team member who knows everyone.  It can also be useful to make the buddy someone the remote team member doesn’t work closely with, so they get the chance to meet other people in the wider team.

  1. Plans

Setting out metrics, deliverables, key projects, training, and compliance etc is important, especially during the induction and probation period. Consider structuring 30, 60, and 90-day plans, this gives staff and managers something tangible to work with.

Being clear about expectations and goals helps managers to provide clear guidance and direction to keep everyone on track.  It also means you can spot and manage any performance issues early on.

The new team member can own their plan(s) and create them. In the first week, they could create a 30-day plan, in the first three weeks a 60-day plan, and by week seven or eight, their personalised 90-day plan.  These plans progress from soft factors like meeting the team and ticking of compliance, to technical issues like taking over accounts/projects and performance KPIs.

Conclusion

Remote work can be more efficient, effective, and satisfying when staff know what they’re doing. Just because someone isn’t in your office 100% of the time, you don’t want their work to be delayed or for them to lose motivation.

From SMEs to the top end of town, flexible working arrangements for entire organisations are a relatively new concept for most of us.  However, with the correct remote workforce induction process in place, it can be highly successful.

Regardless of location, the entry process should be smooth and provide staff with the information they need to make a good start in the organisation. After all, if we fail to induct new recruits effectively, it can lead to more management time and costs in the long run.

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